CnLsnapping


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All About Food

It’s been an extremely uneventful month here in Lagos. When we first got here, Casey worked a lot and I stayed at the hotel. He went on various nightstops during the week, and I was left to my own devices, which meant reading up a storm, watching Netflix, and knitting/crocheting. (Yes, we’re able to watch Netflix here! The only caveat is that we can only see the European content instead of what’s available in the USA, but that’s not so bad.) I don’t mind sitting here doing my own thing since I’d be doing these same things back home anyway. Luckily, my crafts travel well.

But now, he’s been off for a while, and we’ve just been on vacation! Woo hoo! Per se. Since there isn’t too much to actually do here, we’ve been treating ourselves to good food! Lots and lots of nice meals. That’s what I’m going to share with you today.

The first of our many Domino’s Pizzas!! We really love pizza. That’s pretty fortunate considering that it’s one of the best foods here in Lagos (to us, anyway). It’s just as good as pizza in the US, and their delivery service is SO quick! In 20-30 minutes we can have a fresh pizza at our door. Yum.

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A few months ago, Casey discovered a new restaurant called Truffles. It’s only about 10 minutes away from us, and they serve amazing food! The quality and taste is wonderful. We’ve gone there numerous times already and ate fettuccini alfredo, chicken quesadillas, mini hamburgers, fish sticks, sweet and sour chicken, mini pizzas, and more. The red drink below is called a Chapman. It’s a very common drink made of a combination of the following ingredients: Sprite, Fanta, Angostura bitters, grenadine syrup, orange juice, lemon juice, and garnished with a cucumber, lemon, or lime. It’s really quite good. It tastes like a fizzy fruit punch. Casey got a vanilla milkshake one day which was very mild but good. (I love all of his varying expressions in these pictures.) 

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Another fun, new place is Ocean Basket! It’s a seafood restaurant originally from South Africa. I’d say that Lagos isn’t known for their seafood, but this place has some good quality fish, albeit imported. We’ve been twice and have enjoyed our meals. We’ve tried the salmon, fish and chips, fried calamari, and grilled sole.

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We went to the Sheraton Hotel one night and they had a Tex-Mex buffet. We had chicken fajitas, carne asada, some spicy beans, and another Chapman. They also had an array of super tiny, super cute desserts which were much cuter than they were tasty. But it gave me the idea to make extremely tiny mini cheesecake slices! Adorable!

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One of the take-out places we order from is called Shawarma and Co. Casey gets a falafel shawarma and I get a chicken shawarma. I think shawarmas are originally from Lebanon, so they use Lebanese bread, which is similar to pita bread but much thinner. They consist of various vegetables or coleslaw, a meat or main filling, and some sauce. Many places serve shawarmas and all of them are slightly different in flavor and ingredients.

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The best cupcake place is at the mall. Other bakeries just don’t know how to make cake. At all. And then there is always COLD STONE! We love ice cream, so we love cold stone. What can I say.

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Last weekend, we went to Lekki Market and Victoria Island with our friends, Jose and Ben. I wanted to do a little shopping at the market, and then we had a great lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe (of all places) and a coffee shop (again, of all places.) The first picture is outside a place called So Fresh. They have one location on the Island and another location right by our hotel. We’ve been ordering smoothies almost every day and they are delicious! 100% fresh fruit smoothies! Who would have thought there would be a place like that here. Not us, for sure, but we are grateful to have a location so close to us that delivers too. Even better!

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Then we went to Cafe Neo. Casey said the coffee quality was really good. Apparently they want to open a location close to us, so hopefully that is true. He would be very happy.

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I hope you enjoyed our little food tour. Food has become the highlight of our stay here, so it’s fun to find new places. We’ve been having good luck finding some quality restaurants in our vicinity. Thanks for reading!

P.S. We checked out a new mall the other day. Casey had fun trying out their virtual reality ride and a hoverboard. He said the virtual reality was just subpar, but the hoverboard was much fun.

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A Walk in Ikeja [video]

A couple weeks ago, Casey and I went to Goodies Market for lunch and grocery shopping. We ended up walking back to the hotel because our usual method of transportation, a small three-wheeled vehicle called a keke, was not allowed to pass on a certain road. (Since it was the holiday season, the police wouldn’t let them pass for some reason.) We decided to take a video of the walk to show you all what it looks like around our side. Unfortunately we didn’t think of it early enough, so the video starts during the middle of our walk, but you still get to see a good amount of the neighborhood. Casey was holding the camera, and he was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, so the camera shakes from time to time. If we decide to take another video, we’ll try to do a better job! But enjoy this one for now!


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Don’t Look Down

Well here we are in Naija (a common nickname for Nigeria, pronounced “nigh-ja”). Casey is back at work already today. I’m here holding down the fort and trying to write.

I thought of today’s post because that’s exactly what I’ve been telling myself: don’t look down. We’ve traveled to a lot of sketchy places and stayed in a lot of sketchy hotels in our day. Mainly they were overseas, but sometimes, on our quest to save money, we’d choose a shabby hotel in the US. We were only to blame for those decisions, but we really don’t have much choice in Europe and in Africa. Their standards are just plain different. And, if we don’t want to spend a fortune, we have to settle for some less-than-average places.

We learned that almost all hotels in Spain are ranked on a scale of 1-5 stars. Some US hotels also use the star system (i.e. “this is a 4 star hotel!”) but the system is more official in Spain. They can’t give themselves the rating; they are rated by some obscure hotel officials and then they have to try and stay at that level. Anyway, 5 stars would be the best and the most expensive, so we chose various hotels on the 3-4 star level. They were decent and perfectly acceptable for Spaniards, I’d imagine, but they lacked a few things we wanted: such as, a continental breakfast, one bed, better shower doors, and cleaner showers. We learned that continental breakfast are nonexistent in Spain – they just don’t do them. So that’s fine, we would get our morning toast, coffee, and orange juice from a local bakery. We learned that the majority of hotel rooms come with two beds. One bed for one couple is a luxury. We’re used to that though because a lot of hotels in Sweden also prefer the two bed arrangement. We learned that Spain uses a half-door system for showers, meaning that the door only covers half the shower length so water inevitably spills out onto the floor. Casey and I both think of ourselves as being intelligent people, but we can’t figure out for the life of us why they wouldn’t use full shower doors. That concept completely eludes us. And we learned that clean grout/caulk in showers are not a common thing in Spain. Why? I don’t know! Yes, there are dirty showers in the US at cheap motels, but I’d be willing to say that most nice hotels that you and I would stay at have clean showers and bathtubs. Is it the climate of the US versus Europe where more mold grows in Europe? I can’t believe that’s true. Do they just not care about cleaning their grout? That seems more like it.

The moral of my story is that we’ve experienced different standards and customs throughout our travels. We put up with a lot from different foods to transportation to hygiene and the like. Most of it we can handle. We manage either by adapting or by lowering our standards. But some things are just hard to swallow. Case in point: dirty showers.

You’ve probably realized by now that hygiene is up there on my list of important things. If I had to choose, I’d say it fills my number one spot. Casey calls me “Hygiene Girl” and I call him “Gadget Boy.” Regardless, a clean shower just goes a long way for me. I can put up with dingy hotel rooms, dirty carpet, dusty window sills, and water-stained ceilings. I can put up with bad customer service, pathetic continental breakfasts, and places that look like the Bates’ Motel. What I CAN’T put up with is calcium-encrusted shower heads, rusty faucets, dirty sinks, crappy toilets, and dark, moldy grout/caulk in the shower. I have a zero tolerance policy for these things! In the US, you can usually try to look at new rooms and find a cleaner one. In Spain, it’s hit or miss. In Nigeria, it’s a miss. It’s humid here, it’s hot here, they’re still working on everyone having homes and clean drinking water, so there’s not much chance in getting spotless bathrooms. That’s why we walked around the hotel the other day to try and find a decent room that would satisfy our number one priorities: technology and hygiene.

On almost all counts, this bedroom is primo. It’s large which means there is plenty of space for our 11 bags, we have closet space, we have a living space with two chairs and our piano, two desks for our computers (we asked for a second desk and were surprised to get it), the bed is comfortable (either they’re way too hard or way too soft), the internet is pretty good, the room itself smells fine (a lot of rooms smell wet and musty like they haven’t seen daylight in a few months), and the bathroom… is okay…

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It’s fairly large so there is plenty of room to walk around, the sink is clean and has a nice under-sink storage area (I’m not using it, but it’s there), the toilet works and is clean, there is a nice-sized water heater (many rooms have much smaller water heaters so we have to take short showers), and the shower walls are clean. The good thing about dark tile is that it’s harder to tell what’s dirty. We moved a nightstand into the bathroom for extra storage space too.

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The two downsides are that the sink is missing a drain cover (I can’t stand looking down a sink drain!), and the caulk around the bathtub is less than satisfactory. Hey, it’s been way worse in other rooms, but it’s still not all pleasant here. I’m glad that the bathtub itself is clean, so I don’t feel like I’m standing on a filthy surface. The first room we were in at this hotel had a tiled floor and some of the grout was dirty, so I would have worn sandals in the shower. I can’t feel clean if I’m in a dirty shower, ya know? That’s just one of my pet peeves. We found a couple really nice rooms with exceptionally clean showers, but we couldn’t have those rooms for one reason or another. I’m really content with this room for all of the positive reasons, but those two downsides still eat into my nerves and make me cringe. That is why I’ve been telling myself, “Don’t Look Down.” As long as I don’t peer into the abyss of the sink drain when I’m washing my face or brushing my teeth, I’m okay. As long as I don’t stare at the blackish-bluish-greenish mold underneath a clear glaze of caulk while I’m reaching for the shampoo, I’m okay. I’m okay. (You can click on those pictures and make them bigger if you so desire. Otherwise, I’m happy to keep them smaller.)

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My rant is over and I thank you for listening to it. On a brighter note, we went shopping yesterday at Goodies, our favorite store. We stopped at the ATM first to get some more cash (see Casey in the little booth). We were looking forward to having a fish burger for lunch but they were out of fish. Maybe the fishermen are on strike? We settled on a chicken sub sandwich instead which was actually pretty good. We are still impressed by the quality of their restaurant. Casey ordered a caffe latte or café con leche as it’s known in Spain (coffee with milk). He said he feels like he’s sampling coffees from around the world. It had an immense amount of milk foam on top, which we both knew his mom would enjoy! And then we shared one scoop of kiwi sorbet afterwards. Actually Casey ate most of it because it tasted strangely like a candle to me. Alas.

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After eating, we went shopping for food and other items. We had to watch our luggage weight on the airplanes, so we couldn’t buy food in Spain and bring it here. What a shame! That meant we had to buy super expensive food in Lagos. Sigh. Casey pointed out that being happy and content in Lagos is hard to come by, so pricy food is worth every penny if it keeps our moral up. I know exactly what he means, even though it’s SO hard to bear spending a fortune on the same items we’d get for less in other countries. I treated myself to some extremely expensive cereals though because I eat it every morning. Here is a copy of our receipt. I’ll tell you the prices for some items: A bag of Chex Mix: $4.20, Nature Valley granola bars: $5.30, A jar of spaghetti sauce: $4.54, Old-fashioned Quaker Oats: $10.14, Jif creamy peanut butter: $5.07, Smuckers jam: $5.30, Reese’s Puffs cereal: $8.00, Frootloops cereal: $8.00, Waffle Crisp cereal: $6.40, Basic 4 cereal: $6.94, Fiber One granola bars: $6.94. Our total bill came out to $109! Yikes! I joked that the red mark on the receipt was us signing in blood for our good food. Casey cringed. (It was actually the tape machine running out of paper.)

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We’re still surprised that the owners of Goodies have done so well for themselves. They have an amazing amount of US brands (much more than in Europe), and their store is always packed. Now the restaurant is busy and has tasty food. Even though we don’t like our hotel all that much, we’re glad to be close to Goodies and Domino’s Pizza. We would not have these places if we stayed at hotels on the other side of the city.

We enjoyed a bowl of Reese’s Puffs last night for dessert. I made Casey some PB&J sandwiches this morning to take to work. Then I had Waffle Crisp for breakfast while watching my Golden Girls. Who could complain? I feel compelled to say that I try to eat healthier cereals and I usually succeed in doing so. I only keep healthy cereals around in Camas. But I haven’t had these brands in ages and being in Lagos is all about keeping yourself happy right?? Right.

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No Man’s Land

We are in Lagos! Again.

Our trip went very smoothly. It even had a few bright spots to cheer us up. First off, we didn’t have too much food for breakfast yesterday morning, so I made biscuits. I had never made biscuits before, but I had a craving last week, so I looked online and found a spectacular recipe. It is super easy and sooo good! They were fluffy, creamy, and lightly browned on top. Just like they should be. Just perfect! Obviously, I didn’t have a round biscuit cutter, but they tasted amazing in any shape. I don’t post recipes here, but I think this one needs to be shared. I highly recommend that you try it! Click the link:

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2014/06/light-tender-cream-biscuits-recipe.html

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After indulging in honey-glazed goodness, we finished cleaning and packing up the last minute items. Our plan was to take the bus and the train (metro) to the airport. Even though we had four large suitcases and two totes, we felt like we could do it. (The picture above shows Casey in the elevator with all four bags!) However, after seeing how packed the bus was, we decided that maybe a taxi was in our best interest. Luckily, there was a taxi stand just around the corner from our apartment and the bus stop, so Casey found a taxi big enough for all of our luggage. The ride was so much nicer than hauling all our bags on public transportation!

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I never really posted pictures OF the apartment, so here are a few that Casey took just before we left. It was a nice place for us! Two bedrooms, family room, kitchen, and bathroom. It suited us well.

We left Valencia and flew to Paris. The Paris airport terminal was very cool with their curved ceiling.

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Fortunately, we had enough time to buy some food before boarding the plane for our flight to London. We bought a ham and cheese sandwich, lemonade, and a slice of banana cream pie! I had to carry the piece of pie on board, and we realized that food is a great conversation starter. The woman who checked our boarding pass said she loves it, and two flight attendants on the plane said how good it looked. They were all very friendly thanks to the pie. Perhaps we should always carry yummy looking food to soften people up!

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Casey and I both love lemonade, but we’ve had some weird and almost inedible variations overseas. One brand in Lagos tasted like PineSol to me.  Here he demonstrates his sommelier skills before tasting it, and it was decent! This French brand was not as sweet as US brands; it tasted more like pure lemon juice, but it was satisfying.

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The sunset views were gorgeous! I love flying around that time because the colors and the clouds are so pretty! Casey never ceases to remind me that he (a pilot) has the BEST seat on the plane.

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I really enjoyed seeing the rainbow colors in the sky. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen such a strong color gradient before.  We were over France at the time, so maybe we were at just the right angle in the world. The streak of white is a plane in the distance as well.

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We just crossed the English Channel in the photo below and were now over England. I get so excited when I see other planes in the sky. The plane looks further away in the photo, but I swear we could see so much detail. We’ve been pretty close to planes before, especially when we fly in a small Cessna, but this was THE closest plane I’ve ever seen! Wow!

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We had a few hours to pass before our flight to Lagos, so we walked around the airport and had a coffee and muffin. Then we went to a cute British restaurant for dinner. We enjoyed a great meal of chicken pot pie and pumpkin tortellini.

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We moseyed on over to the gate and boarded a full flight. But then the best bright spot happened! We got to sit in first class!! Yeah! Casey usually gets upgraded to first class lately when he flies alone, but for some reason it never works out when I am with him. Finally it did though! I was so giddy and didn’t know what to do with myself.

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We were able to sleep for a few hours and were much more comfortable than in economy. The seats even fold down and lay completely flat. I wish we’d get upgraded all the time.

Lagos is pretty festive, and there are always Christmas decorations everywhere. Even the airport got all dolled up!

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We had to stop at the pilot compound to pick up all of Casey’s luggage that stays in Nigeria. I admired the Christmas tree while they gathered his things. I tried to take a panoramic picture too! I think it turned out pretty well. You can see Casey in the left-hand corner, three different buildings, and the tree. Cute! You can click on the picture to make it bigger as well, if you want.

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Then the driver took us to our hotel called Devine. Casey commented that it is everything but “devine.” Tis true. Alas. The clouds were so different and pretty though!

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In total, we had eleven bags counting what we brought from Spain and what Casey keeps in Lagos. Wow right? I was leaning on the bags so they wouldn’t fall out of the van.

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Initially, they gave us a small room with two beds and a crappy bathroom. We got there so early this morning that they didn’t have any other rooms until people checked out this afternoon. There was nothing else we could do, so we managed and just took a nap for a few hours. Then, after checkout time, we walked around and looked at many different rooms to find one we liked more. Casey wanted a window facing north or east in order to have a better internet signal, and I wanted a clean bathroom! (You can see that technology and hygiene are our most important necessities, albeit very different from each other.) It took us awhile to find one room with both, but we finally did. Fortunately we were able to change rooms, and now we are much happier. We spent about an hour rearranging furniture and unpacking so that we have a very comfortable space. After all, we will be here for a month!

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I commented to Casey that choosing a new room here is like selling your soul because there is always a catch when you sell your soul. In our case, we think we’re getting a much better room and are so excited about it, but there must be something we overlooked and might be sorry for later. It’s a dramatic simile, but I think it makes my point. Our dinner further confirms the analogy because it honestly tasted like fire! We ordered chicken with jollof rice (a spicy, tomato-based rice) and it was SO spicy! It even had a slightly grilled, charcoal flavor, just as I imagine fire would have. Hopefully we won’t regret our decision to move to this room; so far, it’s wonderful and might be the best room we’ve ever had in Lagos! (We might just have a little heartburn but that’s ok, hehe.)

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Now we’re here and settled and ready for a fun-filled, fabulous, farcical month in our other home away from home! Stay tuned and I’ll be blogging about the rest of our trip through Southern Spain :)


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VLC–CMN–LOS

The title is using the airport codes, but it actually means “Valencia to Casablanca to Lagos.” What a trip! This is a long post, by the way.

Maria was kind enough to drop me off at the airport, so that helped out a lot since I didn’t have to take a bus and a train to get there. I arrived nice and early with plenty of time to check in and get some lunch. I was one of the first to check in too, so it was super fast and easy. Going through security is much easier in Spain as well, since you don’t have to take off your shoes, and they don’t seem to stop as many people as they do in the US or London to go through their bags.

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After I checked in, I went to Starbucks to get a bottle of water and relaxed for a while in a comfy chair. I decided to find my gate before having lunch in case it was far away. That was quite funny because the gate was about 50 feet away. Valencia is a SMALL airport! I think they have 12-16 gates, if that? So I laughed to myself and went back to Starbucks for lunch. There were a couple restaurants in the airport, but nothing looked good to me. I was craving some fruit, so I bought a fruit salad and an orange loaf (which is very similar to the lemon loaf that is sold in the US, except this one doesn’t have icing. Mama Rose would like this orange loaf!)

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After lunch, I went to the bathroom and noticed that all of the stalls except one were out of toilet paper. That seems to be one common problem in foreign countries: they are always short on toilet paper. So I decided to be smart and selfish and load up on a few small wads in case any future bathrooms didn’t have any. I already knew that Lagos very rarely has toilet paper, so I figured Casablanca was probably the same, especially if Valencia had this issue. 

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I was flying out of gate B6, and here are the four B gates! You can see all of them (B5-8) between the two pictures. When I first passed security, I saw a sign saying that they have A, B, C, and R gates, so I figured the airport was larger and I’d have to walk further. However, I realized that each group only has four gates! C1-4, B5-8, and A9-12. I’m not sure what R has, but it’s quite funny nonetheless. The flight was about 20 minutes late, but that was okay with me. I had a LONG layover in Casablanca ahead of me, so I didn’t mind waiting longer in Valencia. We got our exit stamp from the customs officer and then took a bus to reach the plane.

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It was a beautiful sunny day out there on the tarmac/runway. Being so close to the plane, and not having to stand in the jet-way, reminded me of our Cessna flying trips. I had the urge to start packing up the baggage and doing the before-start checklist like Casey and I used to do.

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I had a nice seat by the window in view of the propeller. I didn’t know they would give us a meal either, but I got a chicken sandwich! It actually wasn’t bad. The seasonings were vaguely reminiscent of Indian spices which I absolutely do not care for, but luckily it wasn’t very strong. The bread was a bit stale though so I didn’t eat the whole thing.

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The flight was about two and a half hours, and I hardly took my eyes away from the window! I was just captivated by the scenery. First of all, it was fun to see the terrain change from the rugged mountainous regions of Spain, to the water in the Strait of Gibraltar, to Africa! I found this picture online. The text isn’t very clear, but you get the gist of what the area looks like. Secondly, it didn’t seem like our cruising altitude was very high, so I was anxious to see if we were going to climb higher or not. We never did, so the land and the water were very easy to see.

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The terrain around Valencia is more flat and less mountainous, so I didn’t start taking pictures until we were further south and the land began to change. I was surprised to see such craggy hillsides and even snow on the mountains! There were also a couple of towns tucked away in very random spots. One was in a deep ravine, and the other was near a snowy mountaintop. I circled these areas so you can see them too. Quite funny spots for a town I would say.

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The pictures above and below are the same mountain with a “standing lenticular cloud” above it. Casey loves to point out these solitary clouds that like to hover on top of a hill or a mountain. 

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And then we reached the coast. It’s interesting that the land is so steep right up to the end. By the way, many passengers were taking pictures too. I was surprised since not many people seem to take pictures on a plane in the US. But here, I heard a *click*click* every five minutes. Maybe that was because we were flying close enough to the ground where you could see everything!

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I was deeply engaged while we flew over the ocean because I don’t particularly like flying over water. Of course, the flight itself feels the same whether you’re flying over land or water, but it’s just a mental thing for me. I couldn’t see much besides a few cargo ships, and I was anxiously waiting to catch the first glimpse of Africa. Here you can see the red mountains of Morocco! There were a ton of clouds too until we got further inland.

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Overall, the landscape was very flat with farmland, besides being more rugged near the coast. Another thing that intrigued me was how the shape of farms greatly differs between countries. In the US, the crops are organized more into circles and squares. In Spain, the farms look like triangles and are packed so tightly together to use up every inch of space. In Morocco, the farms were in rectangular shapes, as you can kind of see in the photo below. The sun made it hard to take good pictures.

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The sunset was just beautiful behind the clouds as we descended into Casablanca. The photo below is the actual town of Casablanca, but the airport is a few miles away. I wish I could have taken a better picture for you. It was neat to see how the city sprawled out into a sort of sunburst shape.

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And here is the airport! I was looking forward to getting inside because I read good things about the airport online. They said it was one of the biggest international hubs in Africa with lots of shops and restaurants and wifi. Little did I know… but we’ll get to that.

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We landed and took a bus to the main building. I filled out my landing card on the plane but didn’t need it because I never passed through customs. I didn’t know which terminal I was in or which terminal I needed to go to, so I just followed the crowd and went to customs. The officer said that I didn’t need to pass because my flight to Lagos was in the same terminal I was in – the international terminal. I just needed to turn around and go through security to get to the main area. I was secretly disappointed because I wanted a stamp in my passport from Morocco!

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I turned around and found the dinky international entrance. Going through security was even more lax than in Spain! They let me keep my water bottle and I didn’t even need to take my laptop out of my tote. He just looked at my passport and boarding pass and that was it. Super relaxed. I went up the escalator to find a long rectangular terminal with duty-free shops coming out of your ears! There was one restaurant/bar and the rest were souvenir shops or duty-free shops. I walked around the whole thing looking for food and finally found an incredibly small “fast food” area. It looked like a small food court that you would find in a mall, except the food did not look appealing. They had sandwiches, pizza (at least what they call pizza), and probably their local food of chicken and rice or something. I immediately was unimpressed though and turned around to find something else. I went back to the singular restaurant/bar which looked like they had better food, but I didn’t like the vibe in there, so I decided to buy a bunch of snacks instead. I know, not the best dinner, but it was still something. They had two Hudson News stores where I went for snacks. You probably don’t know this store by name, but they are in virtually every airport in the US. You might recognize the blue bag below.

While walking through the airport, I discovered that they had an airport hotel called Fly Hotel where you can rent a room by the hour. I had a six hour layover ahead, so I decided to check out the hotel and possibly get a room. It had to be more comfortable than sitting in the chairs by the gates. The front desk clerk was surprised to see me, and he said that in the seven years he’s been working there, he’s never seen someone like me at the hotel. I’m not entirely sure what that meant, but I assume he meant a young Caucasian woman by herself. Maybe he only sees Africans and not many Europeans at that hotel. Who knows. The rate was reasonable, so I got a room and set up dinner.

In the meantime, I could not connect to the wifi at all! So much for what I read online… The airport had two wifi choices and both would not work. There was a business center at the hotel with two computers but the clerk said that they didn’t have internet. He was nice enough to give me a hotspot from his phone though so I could text my family and let them know that I arrived safely. Casey sent me a picture from his phone that showed where I was in the world. As you can probably gather by now, I was incredibly disappointed by this airport. The articles online made it sound a bit better than what it actually was. Sigh.

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After I ate, I tried to get some sleep but it was just too noisy. (The dark photo above shows my shoes against the light coming through the door.) People were talking loudly, slamming doors, and children were running back and forth. I’m not sure what was going on out there. I didn’t end up sleeping at all, but it was definitely nicer to lay down than just sit in a chair for hours on end, so it was worth it to me to get the room after all. My mom is probably horrified by the looks of the room!Granted, it’s not up to her standards in the least, but it was decent and well-kept. Keep in mind that my standards are lower now after having lived in Nigeria, so I wasn’t expecting a hotel room like we’d get in the US. The room was very small and didn’t have a bathroom, but it was comfortable enough to relax.

I decided to check out around 10 PM since my flight boarded at 11:45 PM. I wanted to have enough time to find the gate. I also had to go to the bathroom so it was a good time to leave anyway. Just like in Valencia, the gate was not far away, so I sat down and people-watched for an hour. I took a couple photos of the insignificant terminal. You can see the Hudson News store now which probably looks familiar. As I said before, there wasn’t much good food but there were way too many duty-free shops, so if you wanted to buy anything BUT food, you were set.

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The other passengers and I waited and waited and waited for our flight. It was about 20 minutes late again, oddly enough. I flew with Royal Air Maroc which I think is affiliated with Iberia and/or Turkish Air, but I don’t know if their flights are always a bit delayed. Anyway, they finally started boarding and we had to take another bus to get to the plane. It was rather cold at night since it was now after midnight on Friday morning. It did have a neat, eerie vibe though climbing up the stairs and boarding the plane in the middle of the night with dew in the air and spotlights all around. I wanted to take more pictures but the Nigerians were quite pushy. They are some of the most anxious people to board a plane and get off a plane that you will ever meet.

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Upon boarding, they gave us these little flight kits with socks and an eye mask. I was also impressed that there was a lot of leg room! And the seatbacks felt like they went back further. I don’t know if it was the type of plane or whether it was just an old design, but I was quite comfy already even without moving my seat back further. VERY fortunately, it was not a full flight, so there was an empty middle seat between me and a Nigerian man. I had the window again.

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And here are a couple photos of the inflight dinner! I was thankful that they served a meal since I was still a bit hungry. They had beef with orzo pasta, a roll, yogurt, some vegetable, and dessert. The beef was decent with a good sauce. I think the vegetable was artichokes but I didn’t like the smell, so I didn’t try it. I always eat the bread. The dessert was like an angel food cake with a pistachio, honey, and citrus filling, and it was quite good. I didn’t eat the yogurt either because I was full enough. I usually enjoy the inflight meals. They have a certain not-high-quality yet comforting aspect like school lunches probably have, where the food isn’t very good but you eat it and you’re satisfied anyway because you are reminded of the present moment and past memories: my moment being that of traveling and having a new adventure or experience on yet another flight. Does that make sense?

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The flight was uneventful and I was able to sleep for a few hours. The descent into Lagos was breathtaking actually and I am so disappointed that I couldn’t take pictures for you. It was still dark and the moon was out, so the lights reflected in the window and it was just not bright enough to take pictures. I’ll try to describe it to you though. There were little moving spots of light which I finally realized were cars. There were quite a few cars out so early in the morning! It was probably 4 AM at the time. Then as we got closer to the city, I could see little areas of houses with twinkling lights reflected in the thin layer of clouds above them. Each little area of houses looked like it’s own galaxy with moving swirls of light and clouds. It almost looked like the Northern Lights except these lights were orange and yellow and white instead of green and pink. I’m probably not describing it well enough for you to visualize it too, but take my word for it that it was a beautiful descent into the city. I have to say that Lagos is prettier at night because all you see are lights instead of the smog and heavy traffic and overpopulated shantytowns. But I digress.

We landed, I went through the health screening where they take your temperature with a thermometer gun, I passed customs, and then waited for my bag. It usually takes forever to get luggage, but it wasn’t too bad this time. Casey was already there waiting for me after baggage claim, since he’s not allowed into the baggage area. It was such a happy sight to see him after all that traveling! We walked outside to our taxi and drove off to the hotel. I already posted this picture but it’s a good one, so let’s post it again.

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There’s the Murtala Muhammed Airport Lagos that we know so well. They redid the entrance out front so there is a fountain with four dolphins now. It was still early in the morning around 6 AM so traffic wasn’t bad on our way to the hotel. The sun was still rising as well.

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Casey was sweet and made me oats for breakfast with his hotplate. That is one of the best purchases he’s made since he eats oats every morning. I haven’t had them in a long time, since I eat cereal all of the time, so they tasted quite good for a change.

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I brought Casey a treat from Spain called barquillos rellenos de turrón, which are very very thin wafer cookies rolled into a cylinder and could be filled with something. In our case, they are filled with a vanilla-almond cream. You can buy these kind of cookies in the US too, but I can’t remember what they’re called in English. He was very pleased!

I was still a bit tired, so I took a nap for a few hours and then he wanted to play ping pong when I woke up :) I’ve never been to this hotel before, and this is Casey’s first time here too. It’s pretty nice actually. They have three buildings with rooms, a pool, a ping pong table, and a gym.

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Casey took me on a tour around the grounds and I saw this by the kitchen. There are probably a hundred red onions on the top two shelves, and then there are huge yams at the bottom. You may or may not remember that there are only red and white onions in Lagos; they don’t have yellow onions here. Just some food for thought.

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We kept walking and went into the gym. I would venture to guess that some of the funniest signs in the world are in Lagos. It is a completely backwards country as you can clearly tell by this contradictory sign. “No jogging on the treadmills” huh?? What are we supposed to do? Casey jumped to be in the photo. Funny guy.

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This reminds me of a picture that Casey sent me a few months ago. He was staying at a different hotel, and he came across this sign on the door to the laundry room. Isn’t that hilarious? It makes complete sense right…

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Anyway, back to the gym. They have three treadmills and a couple ellipticals, and a few other things. They have a sign that talks about what regular exercise is all about. It’s a rather small gym, but I suppose you can still get a decent workout here if you really wanted one.

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We decided to ride bikes to a nearby food joint called Munchies for a small lunch. Casey has two bikes here in Lagos: an electric bike and a regular bike. He usually rides the electric bike but he let me use it instead while he rode the manual one. It was a quick ride to the end of the street where we popped inside for a meat pie! These are basically like calzones or empanadas, with a pie crust-like exterior and a ground beef and vegetable interior. I like the flavor though because they have some spice to it as well as carrots and onions. We bought two small cartons of vanilla and strawberry ice cream and came back to the hotel to relax.

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Arik Air pays a set amount for meals at the hotels so, since we did not spend our daily stipend on food that day, we decided to order a bunch of drinks instead to use up the money. That is why you see all those drinks laying on the bed. It works out well this way because sometimes Casey will order food but not have enough money left over for drinks, so this way he can save some drinks in the fridge for later. To sum up my first day, we treated ourselves to a nice Domino’s Pizza for dinner! And it was delivered! My favorite combo of pepperoni and mushroom. Yum!!

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Well that was my whole trip and day one in Lagos in a nutshell! Casey worked today so I had all day to write. He will probably work more this week, so I’ll be able to fill you in on some of our other outings. Hope you enjoyed this post! Until next time!